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Albright-Knox launches ambitious animation show, smartphone app

Our world today is centered around screens.

Turn on the television. Send a text message. Check your email. Scroll through Facebook. Turn on your GPS. Pick a song from your iPod. In a five-minute time span, you could use more than five separate screens.

“We’re all in one way or another addicted to the screens that populate our world,” said Joe Lin-Hill, deputy director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

To explore that notion, Lin-Hill, along with Albright-Knox curators Cathleen Chaffee and Holly Hughes, devised the exhibition “Screen Play: Life in an Animated World,” a collection of animation work by 23 artists from around the world.

The show, Lin-Hill said, was partly inspired by his tween children and their addiction to their screens.

“The curatorial team thought, ‘Let’s make a show that will be really appealing to everybody about this world of animation that is so prevalent,’ ” Lin-Hill said. “Most of what you watch on television is, in one way or another, animated.”

The exhibition, which opens Saturday and runs through Sept. 13, took about 18 months to curate. It comes with a free app for smartphones that allows users to learn more about the artists and their work.

The app, Lin-Hill said, “is a product of our dissatisfaction with books on video art.

“The book is meant to focus your attention on the image in relation to the words. The problem is that there’s nothing more boring than the book about video art, because the medium is not words.”

This dissatisfaction with the print medium’s inability to convey an animated medium led the curatorial team to rethink how the exhibition could be documented, possibly mirroring the form of the medium they were representing.

“This led us to the idea of an app that is a book of sorts, but it has clips in it,” Lin-Hill said. “You actually have the clips that you can play, so you have a better sense of what we are talking about. It’s not a dense text in the app by any means. We’re focusing more on actually presenting the clips themselves. That is something that hasn’t been done before, to our knowledge.”

The Albright-Knox team wanted to display this exhibit in the summer, with the hopes of increasing children’s interest in visual art. But this is not a kids-only exhibit.

“I hope other children will, like my kids, be inspired by some of the works of art that they see to pursue creative endeavors in this regard, but it’s really a show for all ages,” Lin-Hill said. “I think the older populations will find it utterly fascinating.”


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